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Photon torpedoes traditional cable TV is coming


No, I’m not a Star Trek fanboy, in that I don’t dress up in funny costumes. But I do love me my Star Trek and today, CBS announced that a whole new series will be coming out in 2017.

That’s two years away. Two. Very. Long. Years.

It’s also two years during which the traditional TV business is going to have to come to grips with the fact that it’s losing its grip on the best content.

Before we start loading antimatter warheads, a moment of disclosure. ZDNet is owned by CBS Interactive, which is part of the same CBS that’s making the new Star Trek. That said, I found out about this on Twitter, not in secret planning meetings at Federation HQ.

Now that you know that little tidbit, here’s where it’s getting really interesting. If you are in the United States and you want to watch the new Star Trek, you will only be able to watch “a special preview broadcast” on cable and broadcast TV.

After that, if you want to watch Star Trek, you have to watch it via the Internet, as a subscriber to CBS All Access, the $5.99/mo service CBS sells for Internet viewers. That’s right, Star Trek is going where no broadcast series has gone before: out there, to the Internet.

There is no other way to put this. This is huge. Even Game of Thrones is available to HBO cable TV subscribers. But since CBS is one of the original old-school broadcasters, they’re bypassing their entire broadcast infrastructure in the United States and going online.

One other note: Those outside the US may have access to the new Star Trek series through regular TV. CBS states, “The next chapter of the Star Trek franchise will also be distributed concurrently for television and multiple platforms around the world by CBS Studios International.” But, for the US, at least, it’s going to be exclusively online.

Do I think this will drive CBS All Access subscriptions? Does a cloaking device operate in deep space? Yes, without a doubt. In fact, although I’ve written about the bumpy nature of cord-cutting before, I think moves like this foreshadow a slow but eventually dismantling of the traditional broadcast and cable TV service model.

No matter what, I’ll tell you this. I’ll be tuning in (uh, maybe that’s not the right term). I’ll be clicking on CBS All Access in 2017 and you know what I’ll be watching.

Now, I just want to know the details. Ship? Captain? Premise? Original or reboot universe? I MUST KNOW NOW!!

Breathing deeply. In and out. In and out. I can do this. I can wait until 2017. Deep breath. Can you?

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